Archive for June, 2009

June 28, 2009

65th Wedding Anniversary

My grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this week at a nursing home in rural Wisconsin. The guests were primarily staff and residents with the addition of my mother, my younger sister, me and my three sons (son #1 of 4 is on his way to Belfast, Ireland, via Merritt Island , Florida). Cake was served with some cheese and crackers. Balloons adorned the table and a few cards were given. It was bittersweet.P1010096

Five years ago, we celebrated their 60th at the Courtyard by Marriot in downtown Springfield, Ohio. My sisters with their families and I with my three sons (at the time I was carrying #4) all made the well-traveled journey to Ohio. Along with cousins and aunts and uncles and family friends, we honored my dear Nana and Papa on their special day. The event was catered much like a wedding reception and included a wedding cake, sit-down dinner, floral arrangements and a memorable slideshow of new and old family photographs.

P1010089Much has changed in 5 years.

Now, my Papa doesn’t know who I am. He smiles the kind of smile you might give a stranger – warm yet distant. Absent is the sparkle in his eye filled with affection which has always warmed my heart and made me feel adored. For a moment, there was a sense that he is trying to remember me, but he just remained confused. It’s so strange to loose someone before you’ve really lost them.Inn1972pic1Much has changed in 5 years.

Nana and Papa came to live with my parents not long after their 60th wedding anniversary when it became apparent they couldn’t live on their own any longer. Our annual visits to Ohio have abruptly ceased, and I find myself homesick for the familiar sights and people who shaped my life from early childhood. I love Springfield with its amazing architecture and history. Even though I never grew up in Ohio, my roots are there.800px-Springfield_Ohio_c1900Much has changed in 5 years.

I knew the experience would be bittersweet. What a beautiful and rare thing to witness a 65th wedding anniversary! Yet, it was painful watching my Papa being lead around like a child, being spoon-fed and not fully comprehending the monumental event. He was the one who held my hand to lead, who bought me treats for the long airline flights home to Minneapolis, and who absolutely delighted in seeing me. Everything in me wanted to cry out, “This is not right!” I wanted the beautiful catered-meal, the wedding cake, the floral center-pieces, the crowds of relatives and the slideshow of memories. 

800px-Wittenberg_Ward_St_En_11-23-08Much has changed in 5 years.

Life is ever changing. I know the cliches, but sometimes you just have to protest. Five years ago, I bought a simple chocolate-colored dress for the party. The style of summer dress which could be dressed up or dressed down with the proper accessories. As silly as it may be, I wore that old brown dress to the 65th party this week. It was my silent protest against change, but it was also my way of connecting and making sense of 2 dramatically different events. 

Much has changed in 5 years.P1010100

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

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June 19, 2009

Frugal Friday: Leggo Those Eggos!

100_0230Remember watching those commercials as a child, begging mom to buy a box, and taunting your younger siblings with the “Leggo My Eggo” shenanigans? Eggos may be nostalgic, but there is nothing frugal about them.

A better option:

Make a big batch of homemade waffles (sprinkle some wheat germ in the batter for added100_0232 protein & fiber).

Freeze the extra waffles on a cookie sheet…

When completely frozen, pack in freezer bags… 

Pop in the toaster for a fast-food breakfast ala Eggos… 

Nutritious, convenient and a budget saver!

Happy Frugal Friday!

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods. Psalm 63:5a

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June 17, 2009

Another Irish Prayer

May your day be filled with blessings
Like the sun that lights the sky,
And may you always have the courage
To spread your wings and fly!

Celtic Cross

Our oldest son, Drake, will soon be leaving for a summer long missions trip to Northern Ireland with Teen Mission International (TMI). The fact I can write those words means that I’m not completely in denial – it is literally 3 days away!

His journey will take him first to Merrit Island, Florida, for Bootcamp. This primitive 2 week training includes team building with an early morning obstacle course run, brick laying and other construction training, and evangelism courses. He will be living in a tent, hand-washing his clothes, and doing physical labor. The purpose is to train teens for missionary work around the world.

Next, he and his team will depart for Dublin, Ireland, via Canada. They will then bus to Northern Ireland where the remainder of the summer will be spent in dormitories, and working with a local youth missionary organization. He will not only be evangelizing and partnering with Fringe Youth Works, but also doing light physical labor.

To say my emotions are mixed is an understatement. I’m so proud and excited for him, yet my heart is breaking! As a former TMI team member (Glasgow, Scotland), I know first-hand what a live-changing experience it is – he will never be the same! While I’ve had months to prepare myself to let go, I’m finding it difficult to let go.

My niece, Ashley, is also going on her first TMI trip (following in her mother’s footsteps). Her summer will be spent in Malawi, Africa, washing the feet of AIDS orphans. Sweetie, I‘m completely enviously and totally proud of you, too!

This Irish prayer is my prayer for Drake and his companions as they prepare and leave for the Emerald Isle. It is also reminiscent of a poignant song about a parent singing over a child especially the lines, “It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky. I’ll have tears as you take off, but I’ll cheer as you fly.Godspeed, my dear one!

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June 14, 2009

Prophets and Strawberries and Wisdom

bible

Proverbs: Daily wisdom

As a young mother, my heart’s cry was to obtain wisdom. Parenting is a monumental task and I felt grossly ill-prepared. Eagerly I sought knowledge and wisdom in parenting magazines, articles and books. Somewhere along the way, I gleaned some tips from Ruth Graham’s life. She too was desperately seeking wisdom as a mother. Her response, I learned, was to read one chapter of Proverbs every single day.

“Hmm, sounds simple enough.” 

Because Proverbs consists of 31 chapters (one chapter for each day of the month), I could easily adopt that pattern. Since then, I’ve read the book of Proverbs well over 100 times, and it’s become part of my motherly meditation and language. A verse I tend to repeat often to rally and motivate my troops is: “All hard work brings a profit…” (Proverbs 14:23)

800px-Strawberries

Strawberries

One early morning last summer my two eldest sons and I were working in the strawberry patch. As we crawled through the muddy straw slapping mosquitoes, I attempted to encourage them with the “hard work” verse. Drake finally broke down laughing and he confessed his issue with Solomon’s timeless wisdom. Apparently whenever I recited this sparkling gem of truth, for years he thought it read Prophet (not Profit). We had a good laugh that morning, but now I can’t read that passage anymore without a smile and a little chuckling.

Can you imagine how reluctant you’d be to work diligently if every time you put in a hard day’s work a Prophet showed up at your door?

“YIKES – I sorted and treated and washed and dried and folded and put away all the laundry and I’m utterly exhausted – do I have to hear another fire and brimstone message today? And do I need to serve honey and bugs again?…”

“GREAT! Just shampooed the carpet – will that Prophet show up again in those dirty, smelly sandals? Guess it’s another foot-washing…

Prophets at my door again?

Prophets at my door again?

Be at peace – it’s Profit not Prophet! The promise and wisdom here is for your encouragement (not to frightfully alarm) – your diligence is always, always, always rewarded! Watch for the reward because it will be there. And as your eyes are opened, your heart will overflow with thanksgiving and joy. Perhaps then, you may smile and chuckle a bit too.

And if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:3-5

June 13, 2009

Frugal Friday: Chocolate Cake

You're Special Today!

You're Special Today!

Over the years, our family has developed special birthday traditions and rituals. And each year, the boys get to decide what their special birthday meal will be and flavor of their cake. Earlier this week, we celebrated Colin’s 12th birthday and his cake of choice was this year was (drum roll please): CHOCOLATE! 

My personal definition of frugal living encompasses living inexpensively with an emphasis on nutrition and nurturing:

Frugal Living is an art form and a skill I wish to cultivate in my life and home. It’s not just about saving money, conserving resources and being green.  What makes it an art is combining frugal standards while creating a nurturing and pampering environment. In other words, your family feels spoiled and loved not neglected and deprived.

Hershey recipe

Click for recipe

Chocolate cake made from scratch may cost a bit more than a box of cake-mix (frankly I’ve never done the calculations) and it may take a little more time to prepare, but it is the ultimate in yumminess and pampering. Our family favorite recipe comes from Hershey Chocolate. This cake is decadently moist and the frosting is fudgy-good!

Happy Frugal Friday!

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

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June 11, 2009

I Spy with My Little Eye

glass.001I spy with my little eye something that starts with a M…

Since I was little girl, I’ve wanted to be a mommy – especially a mommy of boys. Growing up with only sisters, I desperately wanted a brother and prayed that God would make me the mother of sons. And when I played, there was always the mommy element to whatever I was doing. Playtime was serious training for my future role.

All little girls watch their mommies in hopes of gaining the skills, training, wisdom and resources needed for parenting, and I was no exception. My mother loved to bake all kinds of delicious treats – I watched. My mother gave generously of her time, energy and resources – I watched. My mother was passionate about her beliefs and her faith – I watched. But, my mother lacked something that I deeply desired: she wasn’t the mother of sons.

I distinctly remember searching for those mothers of boys. I watched as they nurtured their sons, and I watched as they cared for themselves, too. I listened to what they said to their sons and about their sons. I naturally gravitated to those who had the skills, wisdom and temperaments I wanted to exemplify. When they needed babysitters, I was the first to volunteer. 

While reading Nurture, my heart was quickened and reminded of this childhood search for mentoring and nurturing.Nurture As a young girl, I wasn’t enlightened enough to understand why I was drawn to these women, but now I see it so clearly. And whether good or bad, these women who were the wallpaper of my little life had no idea they were under a microscope. 

We are being watched by little eyes. The hearts of young girls are desperately searching for the tools, wisdom, training and skills they need to be good mommies. So keenly I am aware of this now. Last week was our final hockey tournament after a 6 weekend run; this was our home tournament. Colin, son number two, had implored me to come to his game on Sunday since they were playing for the championship.

“Mommy, could you pleeeeease find someone else to teach for you? You missed my last championship game…”

He was right – I’d actually missed a few championships. And because of a very gracious volunteer, I was able to rearrange things to be there. So, there I sat in the arena’s mezzanine with the two younger brothers competing for my lap and my attention. Distracted and tired, I had a choice to make. I could let their antics gnaw at me, or I could make a decision to patiently admonish and redirect. Two little girls were sitting near us. I felt them grow quieter and more attentive as my sons grew more active and disruptive. They were watching!

Now, it’s my turn – rather our turn. We are the wallpaper in the lives of little boys and little girls. Perhaps, we aren’t directly training or nurturing or directing, but we are setting a example whether good or bad. We do have a responsibility not only to our children to train them, but our responsibility extends far beyond our four walls.

I spy with my little eye something that starts with a M…

We can draw an inescapable conclusion: the older women are being watched by the younger. Whether you signed up to be an example or not, you are one. – Nurture by Lisa Bevere

June 5, 2009

Frugal Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Caution: The grocery aisle marked Cookies & Crackers & Snacks – do not enter!  Unless you absolutely need something for a special occasion, I would avoid this aisle at all costs.

There are 2 basic reasons:

  1. Read the labels – preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals
  2. Look at the prices – how much money for how many?

My cart rarely graces the cookie aisle, but does this mean my brood of bouncing boys is woefully without munchies? Are you kidding – we’d have mutiny on our hands! We (Drake and Colin are cookie chefs, too) make our own cookies, and it is a whole lot less expensive and much tastier. Plus, the smell of Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies baking is absolutely divine!

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Over the years, I’ve made batches and batches of this chocolate chip cookie recipe so much so I don’t use a recipe anymore. Quickly the ingredients are pulled and returned to their shelves. Within minutes, the dough is oven ready – talk about fast food!

My frugal hints:

  • Always double the recipe
  • Bake and freeze  (if I don’t freeze them, they will get eaten instantly – out of sight, out of mind)
  • If you don’t have time to bake all the dough, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and crowd as many dough balls on as you can. Throw the cookie sheet(s) in the freezer. When the dough is completely frozen, put the balls in freezer bags and back into the freezer. When you want a pan of piping hot cookies, put the dough balls on a cookie sheet and bake as usual. Bake as many or as little as you want!

Hot chocolate chip cookies and cold creamy milk – The art of frugality. I’m feeling spoiled already!

Happy Frugal Friday!

She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. Proverbs 31:14

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June 5, 2009

From My Bookshelf

Turn on the tea-kettle, grab your prettiest chintz teacup and settle into your favorite chair. Reading Lisa Bevere’s new book, Nurture, is like an intimate afternoon tea with your very best friend. Listen as she shares from the depth of her heart:

This gathering of women, this hunger for nurture, is what drives me. I want to find the daughters and help them recover life and safety. I want them to grow so they can fly. I want to turn the heads of busy mothers so they will notice the daughters who are searching. And I want to empower the grandmothers to lend the comfort only they know how to give so well. I want these women nurtured well, so they can in turn enlarge the lives of others – who will hear the cry of Earth’s citizens.

Lisa Bevere BookNurture will take you on a journey of the heart with the destination being a rediscovering of God’s purpose for you as a woman. When God made woman, she was beautifully equipped and gifted for nurturing from the heart to the heart. Somewhere along the way, we seemed have lost our God-given endowment to nurture and reproduce, but not hopelessly. God is raising up wise companions who will walk with us and encourage us to take our place in God’s plan (Proverbs 13:20). Lisa Bevere is a voice of wisdom calling out the daughters, mothers and grandmothers of our age.

Like Wisdom personified in Proverbs 9, Nurture provides a table of nourishing delights. It could also be likened to a cup of steaming tea to be sipped, savored and enjoyed. 

 Wisdom has built her her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.

 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; 
       she has also set her table.

 She has sent out her maids, and she calls 
       from the highest point of the city.

 “Let all who are simple come in here!” 
       she says to those who lack judgment.

 “Come, eat my food 
       and drink the wine I have mixed.

 Leave your simple ways and you will live; 
       walk in the way of understanding.

Proverbs 9:1-6

June 1, 2009

Granola Goodness!

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Modified the recipe a bit...

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Graeme added a little extra cinnamon...

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Granola & milk - YUMMY!!